SEVEN out of the fourteen local school reading coaches, allocated to schools in the Eastern Cape, are taking up study opportunities through a recently launched education bursary programme, put in place specifically for these coaches.“All the bursaries are education focused, as we would like to foster an interest in the teaching occupation whilst helping to address the national shortage of quality educational practitioners,” says Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, funders of these bursaries.Six of the seven bursary recipients have chosen to study through UNISA, with one registered at the North West University. Part of the bursary agreement is for the recipients to remain active, as coaches, in the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm Reading Coach Programme, whilst completing/continuing with their further education. This also ensures that the coaches continue to earn a living while studying, and at the same time continuing to gain invaluable learner-coach experience. Graslaagte Primary Reading Coach Aminah Leana Pekeur-Booi-sen says, “My dream and calling is to help children. The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm teaching bursary will help me reach this goal and I will do my utmost to succeed and make a difference in the lives of the children.” The wind farm remains grateful to the Department of Education, which is accountable for all programmes within schools and works in a mutually supportive relationship with the Institute of Training and Education for Capacity Building, an NPO situated in East London, to deliver school-based programmes. ITEC believes that the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s Foundation Phase Reading Coaches Support Programme is an excellent example of how well the public and private sector can work together to benefit society. “We are pleased that so many of our programme’s reading coaches have taken up this opportunity and that once they have completed their studies, they will be able to continue to benefit young learners, as it will take significant efforts across many sectors to build a stronger education system,” says Radebe.Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s Foundation Phase Reading Coaches Support Programme originated in 2016. The programme, which includes fourteen reading coaches, continues to function in twelve primary schools situated in Hankey, Patensie, Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp. The Programme incorporates a number of elements, namely employment opportunities, training and resources. In addition to this, schools will receive a donation of books. Evidence suggests that a large number of South African learners have learning deficits early, apparent already in the lower grades and that this is the root cause of underperformance in later years. The route of these difficulties points to learners not mastering the elementary numeracy and literacy skills in the Foundation and Intermediate Phases, leading to them being precluded from further learning and engaging fully with the grade-appropriate curriculum.“More than improved reading, I see learners’ confidence boosted a whole lot. They are eager to participate in activities in class that they did not want to before. They don’t feel like outsiders anymore,” says Graslaagte Primary Reading Coach, Candis Rosseau.